I mentioned in a recent review how I find it interesting to learn the source for tribute or homage in the way cigar ideas come. And here we are, with what I feel is a very well-deserved and interesting one. Blackbird Cigar Co.’s latest release pays tribute to founder Jonas Santana’s grandmother Idalia. She lived to be 108 years old, and reportedly smoked a cigar every day. If that is the key to living over a century, sign me up right now!
Blackbird itself is a relatively young company, launching just two short years ago in 2019. Jonas Santana is not new to cigars though, beginning work in a cigar factory in the Dominican Republic right after finishing school. The mission for Blackbird right out of the gate was to create “something brilliant,” and their colorful bird-themed bands—with names like Crow and Finch—definitely achieved that goal. Idalia 108 takes a detour from this approach, offering a more retro feel, detouring from the feathered theme, and being released on a limited basis.
Blackbird Idalia 108 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Brazil
- Filler: Dominican Republic | Nicaragua
- Factory: Blackbird Cigar Factory (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Small Batch
- Vitola: 6″ × 54 (Toro)
- Price: $12.00 (MSRP)
This cigar looks hefty right off the bat—a very densely rolled 6″ x 54 box-press with well-proportioned, rounded edges. There are no detectable soft spots from foot to cap. The wrapper is a deep milk chocolate brown, and there is quite a bit of tooth and mottling throughout the slightly oily wrapper. The seams are clearly visible due to color variation in the leaf. The head on the cigar is a 109-style cap—not to be confused with the cigar’s “108” name—which is somewhat of a hybrid between a standard round cap and a torpedo.
The pre-light aromas from the foot of the cigar are predominately earth and fresh leather, with a little bit of cocoa and sweet tobacco in the background. The pre-light draw, which is just a little firm, has the same earth and leather notes as the foot, but with more cedar and vegetal characteristics on the finish.
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Upon getting the cigar fired up, I am immediately greeted with earth, espresso, fresh ground peppercorns, and natural tobacco sweetness. There is a very distinct oak/campfire note that lingers on the finish. Those same notes are also present in the retrohale, along with slight hints of anise and florals. The finish on the retrohale has pepper to it as well, but more in the white pepper range. The draw is still slightly tight, but workable. The burn is performing well, and the cigar is putting off loads of smoke. A little over an inch in, the cocoa present in the pre-light emerges, and the sweetness becomes more like English toffee, giving an overall profile like a HEATH candy bar. Nicotine strength is medium at this point, with the body and complexity settling in at the same level.
Getting a little further along in the cigar, a lingering mineral note appears on the finish and just kind of sits on the tongue, pulling quite a bit of the sweetness out of the profile. Leather starts to show itself on the palate, pushing the sweetness even further to the back, but not completely out of the picture. Cabinet spices are very prominent on the retrohale at this point, with faint notes of coffee and florals on the finish. The profile of the cigar has changed direction at this point: strength has kicked up a slight notch (almost to medium/full), while body and complexity remain firmly in the medium zone. The draw has opened slightly, and has improved from where it was at the start.
Moving to the last couple inches, leather and earth dominate. The cocoa, which is now leaning more towards milk chocolate, is just barely there, as is the toffee sweetness. This is keeping the cigar very enjoyable, as opposed to being just straight bitter. The pepper in the retrohale has increased in intensity, adding a nice zing to the nostrils and lips as the cigar rests between puffs. The burn on the cigar has been exceptional since the start, with the tightly packed, light gray ash needing to be helped off once it hits the one-inch mark so as not to become floor décor. Worth pointing out is that this cigar never comes close to getting overly hot, which is more than likely another reason the flavors stayed in tune with each other, not venturing too far to the bitter side. The cigar finishes out earthy and peppery, with just a hint of sweetness and the mineral note that has lingered from about the inch-and-a-half point on. The strength at the end has crept up to the lower end of medium/full, with body/complexity never straying from the medium range.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
With the right pairing, for sure. I will try this cigar in the future with some different spirits to see if/how they would elevate each other. For me, the earth, heavy leather, and mineral notes overrode the sweetness just enough to push it out of what I normally enjoy as a stand-alone cigar with mineral water. Those that like earthy notes and hints of leather would more than likely love this cigar. Plus, with the backstory, how could you not have some of these in your humidor?
- This cigar joins the Unkind, which, as of this writing, is the only other cigar in the Blackbird line that does not have a bird’s name. Another interesting note on this cigar is that the company says the Dominican tobaccos used in this cigar were grown by none other than industry legend Jochy Blanco.
- The first 10,000 of these cigars produced will have the special light gray band, with the name “BLACKBIRD IDALIA 108” in bold red and blue print across the front. As production expands, this gray band will phase out.
- Idalia 108 launched in the spring of 2020.
- Flavor: Medium
- Strength: Medium / Full
- Body: Medium
- English Toffee
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Lowland Scotch | Japanese whisky | Bourbon (lower proof) | Hot black tea
- Purchase Recommendation: With these coming 28 to a box, I would keep a fiver on hand to share a special and interesting cigar with friends
- Readily detectible flavors
- Great balance of bitter and sweet
- Cigar burns very cool
- Profile from the middle on may disappoint those looking for sweetness
- Price point of $12 makes it a tough box buy
- Only a few places to source at the moment